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Friday, August 30, 2013

Bethlehem Lawyer to Buy Bechtel Building

Centralized Human Services Bldg Ahead of Schedule
As time ticks away on John Stoffa's second term as Northampton County Executive, he has just announced the sale of Bethlehem's Martin J. Bechtel Building to prominent Attorney Justin K. McCarthy. Pricetag? $1.575 million. This sale is the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle enabling a centralized human services facility in Bethlehem Township for 18,000 consumers.

Located at 520 E Broad Street in Bethlehem, the Bechtel Building is a 29,000 sq ft facility, built in 1962, on 2.12 acres. It includes 95 parking places and was purchased by the County in 1993 for $763,000. Named after the first County Executive, it houses 70 human services workers.

It needs $1 million in capital improvements and repairs over the next 5-10 years.

Another piece of the jigsaw puzzle, the Governor Wolf Building in Easton, needs $3.3 million in capital repairs and improvements over the next 5-10 years. Its 173 human services caseworkers have complained about conducting supervised child visitation amid asbestos, lead paint and bat guano. It is largely inaccessible to between 25-35 disabled veterans, who visit every week. The County has 23,690 vets.

The Wolf Building was sold in May for $1.925 million to developers Mark Mulligan, David Dallas and Bill Vogt.

The $3.5 million realized from the sale of the Wolf and Bechtel Building is about $700,000 more than was projected when County Council and Stoffa first considered centralizing human services.

Executive John Stoffa has called a centralized human services building at 2801 Emrick Blvd. in Bethlehem Township a "golden opportunity to do something terrific" for the 18,000 people who need human services. Stoffa, who has devoted his career to serving them, has said, "Most of them have two problems. They're lonely and don't have enough money. They don't have advocacy groups. They don't have PACs. They don't have people speaking for them."

Stoffa stated that the sale "contributes to the revitalization of Bethlehem, and Northampton County will reinvest the revenue from this sale into the new Human Service facility." He adds that the sale will put the property back on the tax rolls.

Attorney Justin K. McCarthy, a fixture in Bethlehem for several decades, will move his offices from the stately Dodson Building at 528 N. New Street. The former headquarters of the Lehigh Navigation Coal Company is being converted into a 21-unit apartment building. Other Dodson tenants, which include the McHale and La Porta insurance agencies, will follow McCarthy to Bechtel.

The Agreement of Sale is subject to Northampton County Council approval. When fully enacted, closing would occur immediately, Attorney McCarthy will move into 2,200 SF on first floor and lease the balance of the building back to Northampton County until they vacate sometime prior to March 31, 2013. In lieu of rent Northampton County would continue to pay the utilities and minor repairs and maintenance.

Attorney McCarthy said, “I would like to thank Northampton County for its quick response and flexibility in accommodating our conditions of purchase in particular the sale and leaseback so that we can promptly move into the Bechtel building.”

One person is "disappointed" at news of the sale. Bethlehem DCED Director Joe Kelly complained to The Express Times that the City of Bethlehem was largely left out of the process. He suggested that the County should have considered demolishing the building. County officials are puzzled by Kelly's contention, and have produced emails showing that both Bethlehem and Kelly have been approached repeatedly.


Anonymous said...

18,000 County residents will finally get treated like first class citizens.

Anonymous said...

Actually the paper is mote accurate and stated that the combined sales are over $400,000 less than expected.
Also it is worth noting that the new owner of the Wolf building pointed out the buildings issues are "purely cosmetic" and it would only cost about 1.5 million to not only gut but put install high end condominiums.

Again the propaganda of the Stoffa regime marches on.

Facts walk, while bullshit talks.

Mr. Gregory was right and convinced many of the real facts.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That news account refers to the buyer as "Andrew" McCarthy. It is also inaccurate in its claim that the sale was $400,000 less than expected.

In a power point presentation to County Council Ken Mohr notes omn page 18 that the sale of the Wolf and Bechtel buildings would bring in $2.8 million.


He is in fact getting $3.5 million. That is $700,000 more than projected.

The reporter erred.

Anonymous said...

Sure he did O'Hare3. What are you the personal Fox News for Stoffa.

Hopefully, after Stoffa is gone we can get the Controller and new Admisntration to find out how much Ken Mohr has really made off of county taxpayers for this project and the many other contracts he got under the legal reporting limit.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I provided a link to the $2.8 million projection. That is fact. The County is getting $3.5 million. That is $700k more than projected. You can make your snide remarks, but facts are facts and you are wrong.

Anonymous said...

Don't care about the building but it is unfortunate that Ross Marcus may not be able to take his new job. If he does by county law, CACLV must forfeit county money in 2014.

The really sad thing is the law was unnecessary and only the result of "gotcha" politics by some of your buddy Stoffa's Republican political buddies from back in 2005.

There was a former Democratic county official that a key Republican Stoffa ally hated and when he heard he may get another government related job, he lobbied Republicans on county council to pass a law to try and screw him. It may have been passed before Stoffa, not sure. But the target was well known.

That is the problem with anger and emotion based laws, sometimes they come back to bite unintended victims in the ass.

It is a stupid law, passed not for good government but petty politiocval reasons. We feel bad for Ross Marcus, he may have been less than competent but he is a decent guy. However, Lauer is right and the law must be obeyed. If in fact Jennings hires him anyway, all county moneys for 2014 must not be given to CACLV. I cannot believe the Board or contributors agree with Jennings decision as his stubbornness for a buddy puts the organization in financial peril.

Old story of Karma.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Yeah John, we've heard it before...

Anonymous said...

Kelly is misinforming the press if he is trying to state that he was not contacted in regards to the sale of this building. He knows the truth and the nonsense about tearing the building down to build something else is just that, Non-sense

Kelly, Man up and let the people know that you and Callahan dropped the ball and didn't return the numerous calls from the county on this sale.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The really sad thing is the law was unnecessary and only the result of "gotcha" politics by some of your buddy Stoffa's Republican political buddies from back in 2005."

I think the law is completely necessary to prevent local government corruption. Are you telling me Democrats support government corruption?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Don't care about the building but it is unfortunate that Ross Marcus may not be able to take his new job. If he does by county law, CACLV must forfeit county money in 2014."

Incidentally, in addition to supporting a system in which department heads can be rewarded by county vendors with jobs, you are discussing a topic that has nothing to do with the sale of Bechtel and are completely off topic. Figures.

Is this what Democrats support?

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is Jim Gregory has been given his rightful freedom. He is free to continue to keep us informed on issues like this.

Anonymous said...

Hey John be honest and tell us who is on the hook to pay those "taxes, back on the tax roils", under this lease?

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:40 is lying. Gregory is in jail, and will remain there.